The main water source in Kayonza District is contaminated with iron, leading to serious water shortage in the district.
Although experts have not considered iron to cause health problems, its presence in water is unpleasant due to the bad odour it emits, its rusty taste and colour, effect on skin and tendency to stain fabric.
Alex Kanamugire, a resident, said they had abandoned using the water source, located in Mukarange Sector, because of the iron.
“Our children queue for hours to get water from isolated sources,” he said.
“The iron water stains cooking utensils with discolourations. It also leaves marks on floors if used in cleaning. Iron imparts a peculiar taste in water. Sadly, it was our main source of water that was affected.”
Jean Paul Mudenge, an officer in charge of environment and water at the district, said the presence of iron in ground water is a direct result of its natural existence in underground rock formations and precipitation water that infiltrates through these formations.
He said as water moves through the rocks, some of the iron dissolves and accumulates in aquifers, which serve as a source for underground water.
“It is common to find iron in many geographical areas around the globe. Iron problems, either alone or in combination with other troublesome water conditions, are frequent due to the fact that about 5 per cent of the earth’s crust is made up of iron,” he said.
Although not found in a pure state, iron ores are abundant and widely distributed.
John Mugabo, the Kayonza mayor, said efforts were in place to filter the iron from the water system.
Addressing residents in Mukarange, on Wednesday, Mugabo said the issues of water shortage had been experienced for quite some time in the district but was recently exacerbated by the discovery of iron in the water.
“After our main source of water was polluted, we find ourselves in a very tricky situation. We used to get at least 360 cubic metres of water a day, but we are now getting less than half this much,” he said.
Mugabo said the district hopes to benefit from the ongoing Lake Victoria Basin water project that would supply about 1,500 cubic metres of water per day once it is complete, to curb the water shortage.
In the meantime, he said, a filter plant was under construction to fix the problem.